JaxPort updates growth, plans for future in annual State of the Port address

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Port Authority hosted its annual State of the Port address on Tuesday.

JaxPort CEO Eric Green talked about one of the port’s biggest projects -- the harbor deepening. Green said the timeline has moved up and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects to complete deepening through Blount Island as early as May. JaxPort says the dredging will allow for bigger ships to pass through the channel.

In addition, Green said, more than $100 million in berth enhancements will be complete this summer to enable the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal at Blount Island to simultaneously accommodate two post-Panamax ships. By the end of this year, Blount Island terminal operator SSA Atlantic will welcome three new eco-friendly container cranes and complete the first 20 acres of a modernization project to enable the facility to accommodate more containers.

The past year has been a big one for JaxPort. It set a new record for container volume last year with more than 1.4 million units -- each equivalent of a 20-foot container -- moving through the port.

Plus, more than 616,000 vehicles moved through JaxPort during the year, a 13% increase over 2020 volumes, which had been impacted by the pandemic. To build on the port’s position as one of the nation’s top vehicle-handling ports, JaxPort is expanding a primary rolling cargo berth at Blount Island to dock two vessels from a single berth. The $36 million project is expected to take about 24 months to complete.

And the Carnival Spirit departed on Monday, marking the return to cruising.

The port is also benefiting from supply chain issues at other ports. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in town last week to help announce Sea Land Shipping is making JaxPort its first U.S. port for container service on the East Coast.

RELATED: Shipping company moving part of its operations to JaxPort, DeSantis announces

Last month, JaxPort’s Board of Directors signed off on a plan for terminal operator Ceres to modernize a 158-acre container terminal connecting Jacksonville to Asia and South America. Ceres Terminals has agreed to invest $15 million and is expected to bring up to 3,000 high-paying jobs to the port.

JaxPort is also exploring options to build its breakbulk capacity.

About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.